Russians are hosting the 2018 World Cup and with only more than a year before the event, they seem very far from making the environment free of racism.
The most current evidence of racism still exists is during a government-sponsored parade over the weekend to celebrate the forthcoming Confederation Cup where several Russians marched wearing blackface. Confederations Cup is a test game held a year prior to the World Cup.
Some participants of the parade meaning to symbolize the African country, which will fight against Germany next month’s tournament, wore Afro wigs and held bananas at the “Carnaval Sochi Fest” parade led by Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov of Sochi last Saturday.
Lolade Adewuyi, a Nigerian journalist who was at the parade declared on Tuesday to the Associated Press that the Russians did not understand that it is a concern to have blackface and carry bananas along with it. They did not see it that way and Adewuyi believes that the group did not intend to offend anyone.
In 2013, an anti-racism task force was set up to help curtail acts of racism or behavior in world soccer. However, FIFA last year disbanded the group claiming it has fulfilled its mission.
But some members of the task force openly disagreed with the claim including Osasu Obayiuwana, a British-Nigerian journalist, who said last year through the Guardian that racism in soccer remained a very grave problem and needs to be continuously attended to.
Russia is not the only country in Europe that constantly sees concerns with racism in soccer. There are incidents of racism in Germany, Italy, France and England and other localities in Europe.
Russian soccer’s governing council in February appointed Alexei Smertin as the new anti-racism and discrimination officer whose function is to do all effort in eradicating racism and discrimination in football in Russia. But, everything remains to be seen since Smertin once said that there is no racism in Russia because it is non-existent.
The incident on Saturday is a good proof for Smertin.